Saturday, April 26, 2008

InsideCatholic: Where My Fiction At?

This post leads in nicely to tomorrow's planned essay:

Tod M. Aglialoro at InsideCatholic has asked the question, where has all the explicitly Catholic fiction gone? Being inclined to dislike explicitly Christian fiction written for an explicitly Christian audience, I am tempted to reply that I hope it has died a peaceful and permanent death, but that's not really right; once upon a time, it was not unusual for explicitly Catholic works to appeal to larger audiences, and besides that, some of the greatest works ever written are explicitly Christian.

It is an interesting article, and I suggest reading it. My only quibble is with his description of Christian readers "straining every sinew to force a Christian hermeneutic" on Harry Potter. I'll reply by noting that anyone who's read the entire series will see it allows a Christian hermeneutic without any straining at all, and even if it didn't, that wouldn't make it a bad series.

I must also note that the article advertises The Tripods Attack!, a steampunk novel with an unfortunately generic title, starring a young G. K. Chesterton battling with space aliens.

See the article's combox for more good remarks. In particular, Deal Hudson writes:

...it's very rare that a good novel is the result of someone, not matter how well-intentioned, sets out to write a "Catholic novel." I have had many sent to me over the years -- they usually have a great message but fail as good fiction.... I am finding that the best Catholic novels are those not intended for that niche, that is, the authors set out to write a good novel, and for whatever reason--personal beliefs, the characters, the narrative--the resulting novel is "Catholic" in some compelling way.

And here's another from Aglialoro himself:

But I'd offer that this is a fact about all writing, not just Catholic writing. You can't put your thematic or ideological goals -- whether you'r a Catholic or a Marxist -- ahead of the basic artistic demands of plot, characterization, style, and so on. If you do, you end up with what Mark Brumley has called "pious propaganda".

Here, here. More on this tomorrow.
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